THIEVE a summarization technique

Rafael A. George Duval
2 min readDec 1, 2022


Collecting information does not increase our knowledge. Reading means the text changes our knowledge. Only when we learn from it and begin to work with the ideas it presents.

If we read without taking notes, our knowledge only increases for that moment. Once we forget what we know, having read the text becomes worthless. Thus, reading without taking notes is a waste of time in the long run.

It’s only rational to take notes when you read a text because a system of notes can become an extension of your mind and memory. Taking notes means you can rely on your notes alone and rarely need to look up detail in the original text.

Reading alone won’t suffice: we have to create notes, too, to create fundamental, sustainable knowledge. Realize that having a text at hand does nothing to increase our knowledge. We may expand our knowledge only by storing snippets of text.

THIEVE is an acronym that shows you what you should look at as you survey any text. It helps narrow the focus to the essential pieces of the text that might be worth noting.

Title & Sub-Title Survey

The first step is reading all the text’s titles and sub-titles. We are looking for related words so we can categorize them later.


Headings mean all the text’s sections, chapters, and sub-chapters.

Introduction & Summary

The introduction and summary or conclusion serve as bookends. The introduction of the text should open the door to deeper reasoning behind the content.

A good introduction is a lot like an elementary text. It introduces the essential concepts, and it shows where the text as a whole is going.

What problem is it trying to address? What topic is it exploring in more detail?

What are further steps that should be taken from here?

The summary or conclusion answers the question: so what? Did we solve our problem? What have we achieved?

Every first sentence either of each chapter or each paragraph in a chapter

The first sentences are introductions to chapters, sub-chapters, and even paragraphs.


Visuals can be tables. They can be graphs or drawings. Survey them to complement the previous steps

Entire book

The final step is to go through the entire book.

Focusing on the individual steps of the technique to review a book open the door to a deeper perspective on the content. The technique allows revisiting the material until it sinks into our brains. Skimming the material in a way that helps us expand current knowledge is the technique’s goal. After finishing with the steps, we will have enough information to decide if the book is worth pursuing to completion.



Rafael A. George Duval

Learning about software engineering through the lens of everything, one snippet of text at a time. Chief Editor: